Shared Stories: Oprah and Morehouse College

Watching Oprah on the Golden Globe awards reminded Kay Halsey of a visit to Morehouse College with her father when she was a little girl.  It made her think of service to others and Martin Luther King, Jr.  Shared Stories is a weekly column featuring articles by participants in a writing class at the Norwalk Senior Center.  Bonnie Mansell is the instructor for this free class offered through the Cerritos College Adult Education Program. Curated by Carol Kearns.

By Kay Halsey

Ninety-four years ago during the 1920’s my father took me to Morehouse College to a Christmas concert.  I was mesmerized by the magnificent men’s voices singing, “Oh come, oh come, Emanuel,” as they marched in, dressed in black robes.

Atlanta, Georgia, was a segregated city in those days, and the college was for Negro men.  It was a time of the greatest depression in America’s history.  The birth of Jesus was celebrated in all the Christian churches at that time with carols known to all.

I was surprised when I watched the 2018 Golden Globe awards that Oprah Winfrey had financed the education of 415 men at that college for $320,000.  Many of these men went on to have professional jobs.  

Oprah had, during her lifetime, financed 64,688 scholarships to other colleges also.  Oprah believed in Emanuel who taught men to love one another.

I am 97 years old now and have spent a lifetime trying to live a life of service to others, as Emanuel taught us to love one another.  I have touched hundreds of people, teaching and relating to their needs.  I notice however that Christmas and Thanksgiving today are influenced by buying, decorating and eating.  Prizes are given for the best decorations, what we see.  

Oprah was not born when Morehouse College was established.  Nor was Martin Luther King, Jr. yet born.  It was what they did that changed the lives of so many people.  

Love one another.  The things we dream about, Love, Joy, and Peace, are possible if we care about others.

Shared Stories: Square dancing at Seattle's World Fair

Belle Fluhart has a special memory from the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair when her southern California square dance club traveled north and danced on an aircraft carrier.  (A “squaw” dress, also known as a “fiesta” dress, originated in Tuscon in the 1950s and was popular among square dancers.) Shared Stories is a weekly column featuring articles by participants in a writing class at the Norwalk Senior Center.  Bonnie Mansell is the instructor for this free class offered through the Cerritos College Adult Education Program.  Curated by Carol Kearns

By Belle Fluhart

My husband George and I were avid square dancers.  We had danced with three other couples for years. The men all worked for U.S. Motors.  We had joined a club for the first time, The Reel Heels.

When we learned that the World’s Fair was to be in Seattle, George’s home town, we began planning to go up for the fair.  We planned to take George’s mother.

Our square dance friends wanted to go with us. We all decided we would travel together with trailers.  The fourth couple had three children. Ray asked if they could bring the children.
I said, “This is the opportunity of a lifetime. You wouldn’t want to leave them home!”  Another couple had two children also and were bringing them.

Ray had been looking for a trailer to rent that would sleep the five of them, and found one.  It was privately owned and the family would have the trailer, and the club cab truck to pull it with, ready to go when we were ready.

George and I owned a beautiful six-acre property in Alderwood Manor (about 16 miles north of Seattle).  It had rolling hills, huge evergreen trees, and a salmon creek.  We had always camped on our property each time we drove up.

I told the neighbors in Alderwood that we were coming up for the World’s Fair.  There would be four cars and trailers on our property.  I asked them to check with the volunteer fire department to ask if we could have an open fire outside.

The answer came back saying that the volunteer fire department was so excited about our coming up that they were overseeing the creation of our wagon train camping area.  And, so that the neighbors would not have a big water bill, they had filled a tank with water, with a hose and faucet, for us.  They brought a trash can and had also built a fire circle of rocks, so all was ready for us.

On an earlier trip, I had seen a big sign on a billboard that said, “Come square dance with us at the Old Red Barn.”

I wrote saying that we were four couples who were coming up for the World’s Fair, and would be camping out on our property on Poplar Way.  We would like to visit them and square dance at the Old Red Barn.

The answer came by return mail. They were excited that we were coming and asked the dates that we would be there. Our trip was for two weeks and I said we’d be there the last weekend.  This would be after we had done the planned activities at the fair. They replied that the square dance would be Saturday night, and sent a map showing how to get to the Old Red Barn from Poplar Way.

I had done all of the planning for the trip and told our girls that “We don’t want to out-dress these ladies and suggest that we each take a squaw dress.  Don’t forget your petticoats and dancing slippers!”  The men everywhere dress about the same – western pants, boots, and western shirts and ties.

We arrived Saturday evening at the Red Barn and our four couples danced the first dance. Then the caller said, “Now let’s break up this California square.  Let’s get acquainted with these folks.”

A man came all the way across the room and grabbed my hand.  After that first dance, he just kept hold of my hand.

After the next dance, he said, “Are you coming tomorrow?”

I said, “What’s tomorrow?”

He said, “There’s a flat top (aircraft carrier) anchored in the bay and there will be square dancing on deck from 9:00 am all day and into the night, a long as there are square dancers.”

I said, “I’ll go ask the rest of my group.”

Sunday morning at 9:00 am the eight of us walked aboard the flat top and were greeted by the Red Barn dancers.  The man I had danced with the night before came over and asked if we knew a certain, very complicated, very beautiful square dance.  I answered, “Yes.”

As part of this dance, each of the men grabs onto the next man’s wrist on each side, and the girls hold onto the next girl’s wrist on each side.  At the call, the four men stretch their arms out as far as possible, dance around in a circle with the girls on their arms.  They swing the girls until the girls’ bodies are flying out with their feet way off the floor and their skirts flying out in the air.

This man said, “I’m a guest caller.  Each caller is allowed to call one dance.  But I asked if I could call one dance for the Red Barn group and one for the Southern California group.  And, I have permission to do so.”

He made the announcement and said that he was calling this dance for the Southern California square, “but anyone who knows this dance, feel free to join in.”

Two other squares joined us, but the first time we girls took to the air, the other two squares backed out.  Everyone applauded.

Someone asked if it would it be the same if we were not with our partners.  I told the men across from each other to trade places so that all four couples would be different.  Then we did the dance again to a thunderous applause.  

As soon as we were finished, the caller said, “You Red Barn dancers get over there.  Don’t let our guests get away.”

A wall of people came toward us and we square danced all day and afternoon until it was time to go back to camp and have dinner with our families.

We had a wonderful time, we had square danced to our heart’s content, and now we were going home.

Shared Stories: For Display Only

Yolanda Adele’s short story packs a punch.  She shares a hard lesson learned about items on display at Christmas time.  Shared Stories is a weekly column featuring articles by participants in a writing class at the Norwalk Senior Center.  Bonnie Mansell is the instructor for this free class offered through the Cerritos College Adult Education Program.  Curated by Carol Kearns.

By Yolanda Adele

I was six years old the Christmas that my mother promised to take me to see Santa at the big store downtown. Mama warned me that I would first have to be patient while we stopped at the appliance department. 

As soon as we got off the streetcar I felt and smelled the fresh mist in the air mingled with the scent of cinnamon churros, my favorite fried sweet bread sticks, coming from a vender’s cart. I didn’t dare ask Mama to buy one for me. I was going to try to be on my best behavior for Mama, and that meant being seen, but not heard. 

The multi-color Christmas lights from the decorated street lamps reflected in the small puddles of rainwater in front of the store. It looked utterly magical to me.

We walked in and passed the main lobby where the sound of Jingle Bells played loudly and where Santa was sitting waiting for me! I was filled with the kind of excitement that must come when you are in the first car of a roller-coaster about to plunge at bullet speed towards the ground. 

We were at the mundane alliance department for what seemed eons. I grew impatient. I made several trips to the drinking fountain. Eventually, I had to go “potty.” 

Mama was so enveloped by the prospect of owning a new wringer washing machine that she turned a deaf ear to my pleas to “go.” I was afraid to have an “accident” and have my Mama take me home without seeing Santa.

Just when I thought I found a solution, an irate salesman approached my mother and asked in a loud voice, “Is that your child on the floor model commode?” He didn’t give Mama a chance to answer. 

“If so,” he continued, “remove her at once and explain to her that that latrine is for display, ONLY! We have sanitation laws you know!” 

With that said, he handed my red-faced mother a box of tissues. She cleaned me and the commode the best she could. In a hurry! We fled out of the store and across the street to the Piggy-Wiggly Café to use their bathroom and get cleaned up. 

Mama let it be known to anyone within shouting distance that I was not going to see Santa anytime soon. On that day I learned what “Display Only” is NOT for.

I finally got to see Santa in person - on my eighth Christmas.

Shared Stories: Side by Side

Nothing is quite like a road trip, and Steve Zaragoza recounts a treasured memory of one with his father. Shared Stories is a weekly column featuring articles by participants in a writing class at the Norwalk Senior Center. Bonnie Mansell is the instructor for this free class offered through the Cerritos College Adult Education Program.  Curated by Carol Kearns.

By Steve Zaragoza
About midyear 1977 my dad decided to change jobs and move to Seattle in the area of Puyallup Valley and then later move to the small town of Milton.

When I would fly in to visit, Dad would pick me up at SEA-TAC airport at baggage pickup. I would usually fly up once or twice a year if time permitted. 

Our first stop would always be Pike Market Place. Sometimes we would have breakfast at Cutter’s Restaurant and we would each have a shot of Bailey’s as we looked out to the harbor and talked about grandkids and family.

Next was getting two loaves of sourdough bread, salami, cheese, beer, and wine, then head home where the party would start. We enjoyed these excursions several times a year when I came to visit.

Around summer of 2009 I had called my dad and asked what plans he had. We conversed and decided that I would fly to Seattle and stay a few days, then we would drive back to LA together.

When it was time for us to leave Seattle we packed the car in early morning and got ourselves comfortable. I was driving, Dad at shotgun and ready to go.

We decided to use mountain routes and the first stop is Mount St. Helen’s, at the top, Vista Point View.  Before the eruption the view was spectacular.  But then looking at the destruction, Mother Nature had carved a beauty of her own to reshape a new view to make a comeback.
We next crossed the Columbia River, very powerful, and we went into Hood City, also passing Mount Hood.  Just entering Bend, I noticed an RV dealership, and cruising past I saw an RV that I might like.  

I had said, “That’s what I want. Something small and light.”

My dad struggled with hearing loss, and his response was, “Yes, I don’t want to eat too much either.” I started laughing. It floored me, with what he said.

My dad laughed also and said, “What is it?” I told him I was talking about trailers, not food. He smiled and laughed also.

It’s time for new batteries for his hearing aid, I guess.

We spent the night in Bend. Next morning we headed to Crater Lake but didn’t see much because of the fog.

Leaving Oregon and passing Mt. Shasta we ended up in Redding.  After early dinner we got a motel room. I was able to back up the car to the room door.

Next morning Dad said, “I’ll take the car and get ice from the motel machine.”  About 30 minutes later he came back. I had grabbed some luggage to load but didn’t find the car. It was about five stalls down.    

I asked Dad why the car was so far down. He said, “That’s not the half of it.”

When he backed the car to the door, got out, and went into the room, it was empty.  No one was there and he was wondering where I went.  It was the wrong room!

There was plenty of laughter.  As we traveled on towards home onto Hwy 395, we stopped at places we both knew.

As I travel on, I now miss talking, laughing, and reminiscing about the past and present times. Miss you, Dad.

Shared Stories: A Peace Corps Odyssey

Anthony Kingsley gave two years in service to the ideal of international brotherhood.  He received much in return.  It’s a timely story for this Thanksgiving season. Shared Stories is a weekly column featuring articles by participants in a writing class at the Norwalk Senior Center. Bonnie Mansell is the instructor for this free class offered through the Cerritos College Adult Education Program. Curated by Carol Kearns

By Anthony Kingsley

In 1994 I was getting bored and while reading the job advertisements in the LA Times I came across a notice for a presentation at the Long Beach Library being given by some Peace Corps Volunteers who had just returned from Central America.

I attended and thought - that’s neat. So I completed the application to be a Volunteer. I remember one question – Where would you like to serve?  I answered Barbados, Fiji and some other places with a nice warm ocean and swaying palm trees. 

I got accepted – for Poland. Later I got a letter from Medical – you cannot be cleared because your tests indicate that you have a serious heart problem. I went to a cardiologist who looked at the printout and said he knew what the problem was. He did another EKG and it was normal. The previous technician had hooked up the terminals wrong.

By this time the deadline for Poland had passed. So I was given a choice – Armenia, Bulgaria or Kyrgyzstan. I accepted Armenia. Now I did not know that these four countries had a warm ocean and swaying palm trees.

Just before Memorial Day 1995 I was on a plane to Washington DC for orientation and to meet the other thirty-one Volunteers. We were A3, meaning the third group to Armenia.
A few days later we were on a plane to Paris. But it was only for a five-hour layover.  Then it was on to Yerevan on Armenian Airlines. 

As we were coming in to land there were no lights. But just before we were about to touch down they turned on the runway lights. 

Peace Corps transported us to the Armenia Hotel on Republic Square.  That night we went out walking and the fountains were all lit up, couples walking around and children playing in the fountains. I said to some of my friends – “This is going to be a good two years.” 

We stayed with host families for three months of training. My host family consisted of George, my host father, and his daughter Armenie.  But we only had running water one hour a day, no heat and sporadic electricity because of the war with Azerbaijan.

We were given language lessons and one day we were told to go back to our host family and practice. 

So I said to George what I thought was “Hey George, let’s go for a walk on Abovian Street”.  Then Armenie said, “Tony, why do you want my father go find a streetwalker on Abovian? That was my last attempt at the Armenian language.

After three months I was assigned to an organization as a Small and Medium Enterprise Consultant. This organization was also responsible for my housing. I was given a house to share with Stefan, a German consultant. After a short time, Stefan moved out and Dick More, the head of the program from the Netherlands, said he was going to stay with me – he only came about once a month. And so the Kingsley Arms was founded, a stopping point for Volunteers from all over Armenia.  The full Irish breakfasts became legendary.

One day Dick said that I was living better than he was and that I should find a place of my own. He arrived at about 3:00 am and I always had cold beer and cold vodka ready for him.  On his next visit I told him I had found a place and I would be gone when he came the next time. He said, well wait a little while and we will talk about it on my next trip. I never did move.  Maybe I should have joined the diplomatic corps!

But the organization did not have enough work to keep me busy so I was free to take on secondary projects.

One day an A2 volunteer asked me to help her school children because they were always hungry.  I set up a school lunch program that eventually served 224,000 lunches in some other schools throughout Armenia.

I was visiting a Volunteer in Vanadzor and he introduced me to his translator.  She was quite pretty but her two front teeth were blackened. So I set out to research dental hygiene in Armenia. I found out that the belief was that if teeth were brushed too much it would wear away the enamel. So I set up a dental hygiene program that trained school nurses and gave 15,000 children tooth brushes and toothpaste, compliments of the Colgate-Palmolive Company.

I think we brought a lot of peace. Five male Volunteers and one female Volunteer married Armenians. But the winters were very cold – minus 15 degrees.  

After two years and three months it was time for us to say goodbye to Armenia.

The best job I ever had, receiving a living allowance of $5.00 a day. 

Shared Stories: Coming to America in 1973

Nida Ferrer worked hard to build a good life for her children and persevered when faced with an obstacle. Shared Stories is a weekly column featuring articles by participants in a writing class at the Norwalk Senior Center.  Bonnie Mansell is the instructor for this free class offered through the Cerritos College Adult Education Program.  Curated by Carol Kearns

By Nida Ferrer

On September 26, 1973, the petition of my husband was approved for us to join him in America. My husband had been working in the United States for Bechtel for five years. I was excited to come here and to be reunited with my husband and for my kids to be with their dad.

Before this happened, I had to complete all of the paperwork.  I went to the Philippine Embassy many times for them to approve all of the papers first.  I applied for all of our green cards as immigrants.

It took three months to complete all of my papers and to prepare everything.  I took my children for their shots.  My oldest son Peter was eleven years old, my daughter Elvira was ten, my daughter Wilhelmina was eight and my son Robert was five.

I went to apply for our flight tickets to the airport.  After a week our tickets were ready.  I prepared our luggage and packed all of the clothes needed.  During this week I received a letter from my husband, special delivery, saying for us not to come.  He said he could not find a house for us.

I was so angry and disappointed, but I told my children that we have to go. Your daddy can not stop us.  My decision was to write to my Uncle Eddie, the brother of my father, and tell him that I and my four children were coming, and, if possible, could he meet us at the airport.

He responded to my request and said he would come.  I told him that our flight was American Air Lines and that we would be in LAX around 4 p.m.  

I met my uncle only one time before when I was a little girl, so I sent a picture of me and my children.  When I and my children arrived at the airport I would have to imagine how my uncle would look.  I thought he must look like my father.   When I saw him, he did resemble my father.

When I saw Uncle Eddie, I was so happy.  Finally, we were in America.  We stayed at their house for one week.  He already reserved the first floor for us.  They had a three-story house.  His wife was a German lady and very sweet.  Their two children, my cousins, were already grown.  I met them as well.

I saw my husband for the first few months, but it didn’t work out.  A fifth child was born, but after a year we divorced.        

We all ended up staying at Uncle Eddie’s house for 14 years, and I paid only $100 per month.  I got a job with Prudential Insurance for six years.  Then they offered me a job in New Jersey, but I couldn’t move my family.  I got a job with Kaiser in Los Angeles and I worked there for 16 years.

My children grew up.  They all went to college.  I helped them until they finished their careers.  I bought a car for my son Robert so he could go to college and also find a job.  I also helped my youngest daughter Josephine.  She went to Biola University and graduated in accounting.  She also went to USC for her master’s degree.  I did my best to help them all, because I cherish them.

Norwalk Transit accepting canned food for rides


NORWALK – Norwalk Transit System will hold its annual canned food drive Tuesday and Wednesday, Nov. 14-15. 

Passengers are invited to donate a canned food item when boarding a bus in exchange for a free ride (transfers are optional). 

All canned food items collected will be donated to the Social Services Center’s emergency food cupboard to help feed local families in need this holiday season. 

More than 300 canned food items were collected during Norwalk Transit’s drive last year. 

For more details, call Norwalk Transit at (562) 929-5550.

Shared Stories: Apple bobbin’ and tear dobbin’

Sharon Benson Smith pours her grief into poetry and draws strength from positive memories. This piece is a tribute to her lively mother who passed away on Halloween. Shared Stories is a weekly column featuring articles by participants in a writing class at the Norwalk Senior Center. Bonnie Mansell is the instructor for this free class offered through the Cerritos College Adult Education Program. Curated by Carol Kearns

By Sharon Benson Smith

I had dreaded the arrival and celebration of Halloween
it was the night Mom was rushed to the hospital
and the out-of-doors never again to be seen.

It’s the night to which children look forward to costuming and trick-or-treat
But I’d been thinking of it as the night the “rug was pulled from under our feet.”
This Halloween, October 31, 1978, will mark one year to the day
And I now recall that it all happened this way.

I rushed from work to the market to buy our trick-or-treats
And prepared something real fast for my family to eat.
Then I made my nightly call to Mom before the doorbell started ringing
And as usual, her voice, in its mom-manner, was singing.
“Hi, Mom, how are you tonight; I was just worrying about your
Having to get up and down to answer the door.”
“Dad will be back soon, Doll, he’s just at the store.”
“Okay, mom, just checking, but now I’ve got to go
I’ll call you tomorrow during lunch break as you know.”

All of the above had to have happened before the hour of seven;
Later she was taken in an ambulance; I got the call about eleven.
While in the emergency room, I was told she asked: “Where is my Shay?”
Well, Mom, you better believe your Shay was on her way.

Shawna was right, that little smarty, Mom would want us to have a costume party;
With boys dressed as cute hobos and girls as spooky witches
And a few clowns jumping around just to keep us all in stitches.
Some to be dressed as cuties, and others as scaries
Little devils and skeletons, and ballerinas and fairies.
She’d want us to go trick-or-treating and do some apple bobbin’
Instead of my thinking of hiding away sobbin’ and tear dobbin’!

So, I allow my thoughts to replay the happy scenes  
Like when Mom dressed as Casper the ghost one long ago Halloween
And succeeded in fooling Dad and we kids, as well as our neighbor, Jean.

Up through the years my thoughts take me away to the Whittier YMCA
When Mom was asked to be a judge that particular Halloween day
She couldn’t vote for her flappers but Tracy and I won anyway.
I have a picture of her wearing a badge that simply states “Judge;”
That’s another memory I’ll never allow to become just a smudge.

Who is that dressed up like a regular G.I.                                                                   
Wearing boots too large and at least knee-high
Going around saluting and repeating aye-aye?
How very cute she was, our mother, our queen
Even dressed as she was in fatigues of khaki green.

Then who’s the witch in the gruesome mask with a long hook nose
Who is the witch -- everyone asked -- but nobody knows.
She has an ugly hunch-back and talks in a witch’s cackle:
“Hello there, My Pretty, wouldja like a candy apple?”
She was playing the part I mean just so perfectly
That only the process of elimination revealed Grandma B!

When I told Steve I was writing on the subject of Halloween
He then reminded me of the following scene.
He responded to the knock at the Creedmore door
And could never even guess what he was in for.
There stood a colorful though shabbily dressed gypsy
She arrived all alone – now who could this be?
She held a huge light bulb, symbolic of a crystal ball
He’s asking himself: “Who is this real doll?”
She kept her hands covered and across her face was a veil
Still asking himself “Who is this weirdo” – Steve could not tell.
He went on to say “she uttered not a single word”
He continued asking himself “Who is this strange bird?”
Now Steve, as you know, is a pretty sharp feller
But couldn’t discern who this was, this gypsy fortune teller.
He said it took about twenty minutes of studying the ol’ gypsy
Then she made a certain gesture and he knew it was Grandma B!

Sister Donna reminded me of the party held at the bowling alley.   
It was the night that Mom dressed up like Phyllis Diller
The “most original” prize she won was that Halloween thriller.
I can picture her hamming it up and talking in that Phyllis Diller twang
Just a-laughin’ and a-jokin’ about her husband, Fang.

Who could forget Mom the year she dressed like a regular hill-billy
Again, she played the part, and I don’t mean willy-nilly.
With lots of freckles, an Okie drawl, and of course a snaggle tooth
In clodhoppers like Lil’ Abner’s granny, looking like she defined uncouth.

So as it all plays back and forth now in my heart and head   
These are the memories I should cherish of Mom instead.
Those memories of her that I should always indulge
Are those that make my love for her bulge.

There you have it, to Mom, my Halloween tribute
The night I went on a candy apple toot
It was the night I felt Mom prodding all the way
“That’s my girl, have yourself a ball, Shay.”
It was the night I didn’t do any apple bobbin’
It was also the night I didn’t do any tear dobbin’!

From those heavenly places, I know Mom was looking down
On her Shay the witch, on her Shay the clown.
I recall at this moment, and I don’t know why
The picture of a clown with a tear in his eye.
And I’m recalling Mom again assisting me
With a homework assignment – another biography.
All I remember of it now during this moment of gladness
“In the heart of a clown is a touch of sadness.”

Lord, as she asked of you for me as a teenager so very long ago
Please take good care her, she is such precious cargo,
And pardon me, Lord, for reminding you, of what you made so.

La Serna student scores perfect PSAT

La Serna High School student Kyle Lien is one of 16,000 students across the nation to be named a National Merit Scholar semifinalist for 2018.

La Serna High School student Kyle Lien is one of 16,000 students across the nation to be named a National Merit Scholar semifinalist for 2018.

WHITTIER – After scoring a perfect 1520 score on his PSAT, La Serna High School senior Kyle Lien has been named one of 16,000 National Merit Scholarship semifinalists for 2018, placing him in an elite group of students who constitute less than 1 percent of seniors in the nation who received the highest scores in their state.
National Merit Scholarship participants are selected based on how they score on their Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) scores, generally taken in junior year. Of the 1.6 million students who took the exam for a chance to win the prestigious $2,500 scholarship, 34,000 top scorers received a commendation and 16,000 were selected as semifinalists.
The National Merit Scholarship Corporation will announce the 2,500 finalists in February.
“I would like to thank all of my teachers, who have been an inspiration to me,” Lien said. “Qualifying as a semifinalist for the Merit Scholarship is a sign of my accomplishments, showing I’ve worked hard and been at the top of my class.”
Lien, who in June came within 20 points of a perfect SAT score, has a 4.5 cumulative GPA and an active school and extracurricular activity schedule that embraces community outreach, civic policy and athletics. Lien is a La Serna Link Crew member, plays for the water polo team and is a member of the campus Key Club.
Lien is applying to several UC universities, Harvard, Stanford, Northeastern and USC to pursue medicine.
“Kyle is an extraordinary student who is generous to his classmates and respectful to his teachers,” La Serna Principal Ann Fitzgerald said. “Kyle is the ultimate team player, poised to be a tremendous scholar and future leader of his community. We are so proud of his accomplishments thus far and can’t wait to see what awaits him.”
As one of the school’s’ top students, Lien was nominated in June to serve as an American Legion Boys State delegate, traveling to Sacramento with 1,000 high school students to take part in a weeklong civics forum. Students created mock governments and learned the difference between city, county and state administrations.
In addition to rejoicing over Lien’s success, La Serna is also celebrating eight Commended Student recognitions. Placing among the top 50,000 scorers are Courtney Bylsma, Maya Delgado, Connelly Green, Andre Lee, Ye Lee, Sarah Saltikov, Emilie Silvio and Christen Tai.
California High School senior Rochelle Casement also earned recognition as a Commended Student.
“I want to congratulate Kyle for reaching this tremendous accomplishment and commend our other high-achieving students for reaching such an elite status,” Whittier Union High School District Superintendent Martin Plourde said. “We are committed to providing every student the opportunity to realize his or her highest potential in college and career, and with the support and dedication of our teachers and staff, our students continue to perform and make Whittier Union proud.”

Lakewood native serves in Navy’s “silent service” half a world away

jonathan thompson.jpg

By Lt. Eileen Suarez, Navy Office of Community Outreach

SANTA RITA, GUAM - A 2010 Mayfair High School graduate and Lakewood native is serving in the U.S. Navy’s silent service as part of a crew working aboard one of the world’s most advanced nuclear-powered fast attack submarines, USS Chicago.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan Thompson is a sonar technician serving aboard the Guam-based submarine, one of 40 Los Angeles-class submarines making it the backbone of the submarine force.

A Navy sonar technician is responsible for the safety of the ship. They are the eyes and ears of the boat when they are underway.

“My family taught me perseverance. It took me three years to get into the Navy and because of my perseverance I made it.,” said Thompson. “My cousin is in the military and he is the one who got me into submarines. He and I have always had similar interests, and if he liked it then I knew I would as well.”
With a crew of 130, this submarine is 360 feet long and weighs approximately 6,900 tons. A nuclear-powered propulsion system helps push the submarine through the water at nearly 30 mph.

Attack submarines are designed to hunt down and destroy enemy submarines and surface ships; strike targets ashore with cruise missiles; carry and deliver Navy SEALs; carry out intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions; and engage in mine warfare. Their primary tactical advantage is stealth, operating undetected under the sea for long periods of time.

“Guam is a unique homeport with the missions we conduct and the high caliber of Sailors we have stationed here,” said Cmdr. Brian Turney, Chicago’s commanding officer. “My crew in particular is incredibly talented, and I am proud of the hard work and dedication they show each and every day.”

According to Navy officials, submariner sailors are some of the most highly trained and skilled people in the Navy. The training is highly technical and each crew has to be able to operate, maintain, and repair every system or piece of equipment on board.  Regardless of their specialty, everyone also has to learn how everything on the sub works and how to respond in emergencies to become “qualified in submarines” and earn the right to wear the coveted gold or silver dolphins on their uniform.

“Getting the submarine warfare pin has been my greatest accomplishment. It defines you within the Navy as someone who can be trusted to do the right thing,” said Thompson. “Your shipmates can sleep at night with you on watch.”

Challenging submarine living conditions actually build strong fellowship among the crew, Thompson explained. The crews are highly motivated, and quickly adapt to changing conditions.  It is a busy life of specialized work, watches, and drills.

“Being in the Navy has made me more well-rounded person and I have been able to see the world in a different view,” added Thompson. “I have been in Guam three years and my favorite part of being here is enjoying the island life.”

Shared Stories: A Brother Bill Remembered

Mervin Chantland was the ninth of 11 children born to his parents.  The following is Mervin’s recording of what an older brother told him of family stories and life in the Midwest farmland.  Ballpoint pens were treasured Christmas gifts, but the boys also played some dangerous games.  Shared Stories is a weekly column featuring articles by participants in a writing class at the Norwalk Senior Center.  Bonnie Mansell is the instructor for this free class offered through the Cerritos College Adult Education Program.  Curated by Carol Kearns

By Mervin Chantland
When Dad and Uncle Bert lived on a farm near Battle Lake, Minnesota, they had all of their friends over for a party. They had purchased a keg of beer and were having fun.

There was a gang of boys at Battle Lake that decided that they were tough enough to bust the beer party. They possibly had been drinking too and decided to bust Dad and Bert’s party. They came to the party and started trouble.

I was told a guy named Geo Anderson was the leader. Dad got into it with him. After the fight they washed Anderson off in the stock tank and the water turned red from all of the blood.  Dad was left-handed and very fast with his fists. The others at the party told my dad that he had better not go to Battle Lake as they were sure that Anderson and his brothers would be waiting to get even. Dad said he decided he was going to town and get it settled, as this was his home. He met Anderson in town, they talked and became good friends.  

He told my dad, “You hit where you don’t look.” That was because Dad was left-handed and very fast.

Mom’s brother, who we always called Uncle Carl, had a tavern and store at Mahatowa, Minnesota, in the late 1930’s. I can remember at Christmas time that we would get a large box of candy from Uncle Carl.  He would go in his store and fill a box with candy bars and send it to us.  We were very thankful as we got very few treats, especially candy bars.

Cousin Alfred Chantland built a seed-cleaning plant in Badger.  Al had Dad dynamite a stump right in town, not half a block from the Co-op gas station. Boy, that shook them up. Al never forgot that and had many good laughs over it.

While we lived on the Bradley place, I remember we had an old bike.  I would ride on the cross bar and Lawrence on the back, and Kermit would peddle. One time they had just graded the big hill by our school. The school was on top of the hill, so it was downhill right out of the school yard.  

That hill doesn’t seem so steep today, but from the handle bars of a bike, it looked pretty steep.  We were heading down that hill.  I was sitting on the front, Kermit was peddling, and Lawrence was on the back. It had just rained and the newly-graded hill was slick as grease. We didn’t get hurt, but I remember sliding head first down that hill on my stomach.  Kermit and Lawrence were right behind.

We used to walk across a field to school, barefooted.  There was a big briar patch, and I would tip toe through them and try not to get stuck.  Lawrence said just run through real fast, and I did. We made it. I can’t remember if it hurt or not, but I never did it again.    

By 1938 sister Kay worked in Fort Dodge and sister Florence worked somewhere also. One year they got us all boxing gloves for Christmas.  We would go out to the barn and have it out.  Somehow we kept it friendly.  We never became fighters, but had a lot of fun.  I can remember having them gloves on for years.

One year they got us ice skates, and boy was that fun.  As one of us grew out of one pair, we grew into the next pair.  I think Kay gave us about four pair that Christmas. We would go to Larson Lake and go skating.  The lake was about a half mile west of our school. One time Grodon Frette and others went to the lake with us and we would play hockey and have a great time.

In 1941 we got a new H Farmall tractor. Boy, that was something.  I can remember drawing pictures of it. It was red and new; it even had rubber tires, a starter, and lights.  Wow, that was a jewel to us kids!

In the fall of 1946, when I attended junior high school at Fort Dodge, the first ballpoint pen came on the market. It was called the Reynolds Rocket. It came in different colored aluminum and had a tip cover that would slide down and cover the point.  

A lot of kids in junior high had these pens and I wanted one for Christmas. Dad did get me a Reynolds Rocket. Can you imagine your child today wanting a ballpoint pen for Christmas? That pen was all I got that year but it was what I wanted and I was very happy to get it.

One time, about 1948, Eldon Hovey had a big old barn rope about 30 feet long.  We had the back section from an old horse-drawn bob sled, about five feet wide and made of heavy wood and metal runners (aka sledge).  We put a board across it and sat on it while Eldon pulled us down the snow-packed gravel road.  We would steer it with our feet and had a good time, but the rope kept breaking and finally was too short to use.  

We went to our house to find something else to pull the sled with.  What we found was a large spring about four feet long and two inches across – like a garage-door spring but much heavier.  We put that spring between the pick-up truck and sledge in place of the rope.  
Boy, this was great fun. The sledge would hit a snowdrift and stop, and when the spring stretched a bit, the sledge would break loose from the snow and give us quite a ride.

The day we were doing this, the weather was not cold and the snow was heavy and wet.  Eldon was pulling Lawrence and I down the lane at our place when the sledge went into a wet snowdrift.  I can still see the spring stretching out. Eldon didn’t see it and kept on going.  I yelled at Lawrence to jump off. I jumped off and he didn’t.  

The spring stretched out until it was a straight piece of wire. The sledge went out of that snowbank like a bullet. Lawrence went flying, but as usual, didn’t get hurt.

It was 1949 when Elden Hovey discovered that he could weld a cap on the end of a pipe and drill a hole for the fuse.  He would put black powder in it and tamp paper and a slug of some kind in it to make a cannon.  At that time farmers could buy black powder at the hardware store for farm use.  We had a lot of fun with that cannon, shootings into the air.

Shared Stories: Creamistry

Like most children, Kay Halsey always enjoyed ice cream.  An ice cream outing with her great-granddaughter prompted Kay’s memories of making ice cream by hand.  Shared Stories is a weekly column featuring articles by participants in a writing class at the Norwalk Senior Center. Bonnie Mansell is the instructor for this free class offered through the Cerritos College Adult Education Program. Curated by Carol Kearns

By Kay Halsey

“I scream, You scream, We all scream for ice scream.”  Even today, children recognize this cheer.

In the 1920’s all children had penny banks to save gift money.  Any other money children were given was designated for streetcar fare between school and home. 

It was two miles from my junior high school to home.  I decided I would walk home and save my money to go through the shopping area to buy a “goodie,” an ice cream cone or a pastry, with my dime.

Drug stores had small tables and chairs opposite the counter where there were many displays of different flavored ice cream. A cone cost ten cents. The salesman would put a scoop or two in the crispy cake cone and hand it to you. Then you could sit down, lick the cream, and savor the cool, sweet cream.

Picnics were other times you could look forward to large canisters of homemade ice cream.  My mother made a custard with whole milk, eggs, vanilla, and sugar and poured it into a cylinder in a churn loaded with cracked ice and rock salt. A long-stemmed paddle would be pumped up and down in the custard until it froze.  Sometimes several people shared in the half-hour job.

My memory of ice cream in the 1920’s was sparked when my daughter-in-law brought her eight-year-old granddaughter to have lunch with me. At lunch she didn’t eat anything.  We asked her what she would like.  She said, “Ice cream!”

On the car’s GPS system we found a store in Cerritos called “Creamistry.”  Each order was made by selecting whatever combination of flavors was on the menu board.

An employee would mix the ingredients in a pitcher, stir with a paddle, and apply a blast of nitrogen gas until it was frozen solid.  It was then put in whatever cone you selected and handed to you.  We took our cones outside to eat on the patio.

We enjoyed talking and licking our cones until the ice cream was all gone. It was a wonderful adventure! My great-granddaughter and I thanked my daughter-in-law for the treat, and then came a surprise.  She shared with us that the bill was $28.00 for the three cones! How times have changed!

We’d like to offer a special congratulations to Kay, who celebrated her 97th birthday last week. She is an active member of the memoirs class and a contributor to this column. Kay has shared memories of growing up in Georgia in the 1920’s and her life in Norwalk as a wife and mother.  Many in Downey know Kay from her years of golfing and tennis. She is a role model for us all. Happy 97th birthday, Kay! 

St. John Bosco names new vice principal of academic affairs

Experienced school administrator and professor,  Edgar Salmingo, Jr., has been named Vice Principal of Academic Affairs at St. John Bosco High School in Bellflower.

The announcement was made this week by the school’s principal, Dr. Christian De Larkin.

Salmingo has served as Associate Principal for Academic Life at La Salle High School in Pasadena since 2014.  He also serves as an Adjunct Professor for the Master of Educational Technology programs at California State University, Fullerton, and Concordia University in Irvine.  

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A former teacher and Instructional Technology Coordinator at St. Anthony High School in Long Beach, he was also Director of Educational Technology at Cantwell-Sacred Heart of Mary High School in Montebello for two years prior to joining the administration at La Salle.  

Salmingo is currently earning his Doctor of Education, Learning Technologies from Pepperdine University. His Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering was earned in 2004 from University of California, Irvine, and he received his Master of Arts, Secondary Education from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles in 2008.

Upon making the announcement,  Dr. Christian De Larkin, principal, commented, “I am excited to welcome Edgar to the St. John Bosco family to lead our academic programs.  Edgar’s history of excellence in and outside of the classroom has equipped him to positively impact our academic growth, as we continue to operate at the intersection of innovation and tradition. Edgar’s unwavering passion for student success is a perfect fit for Bosco.”

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In his 11 years of experience as an educator, he has led a host of academic initiatives, including the creation of the Marine Science Academy at St. Anthony High School in partnership with the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach.  He has taught AP Environmental Science, AP Calculus AB/BC, and AP Biology, as well as coached the Academic Decathlon team at La Salle High School to back-to-back championships and a top-10 finish in the World Scholar’s Cup at the Tournament of Champions at Yale University. 

As an instructional leader, he has launched 1:1 iPad programs at three different high schools; built and co-wrote new UC-approved pathway programs in Digital Game Design, Introduction to Law and Sports Medicine; and implemented research-based, schoolwide initiatives in instruction, assessment, and homework that increased standardized test scores and college acceptance rates.

“I am thrilled to be a part of the team of educators at St. John Bosco High School,” remarked Mr. Salmingo upon his acceptance of the position. “I am eager to join them in preparing all of our students for academic and spiritual success by engaging them with their own passions and purpose, teaching them critical skills, and inspiring them to better our global community. Together as a community, we will advance Bosco’s mission and reputation as an outstanding college preparatory high school.”

Edgar Salmingo, Jr., and his wife Dr. Jennifer Salmingo are parents of two young sons, Trey, 5, and Landon, 3.  They are residents of La Palma.

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